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The real trouble with eyewitness accounts

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Don’t believe that eyewitness just because they seem sincere. They may very well be completely wrong about what they think they saw.

Does it sound outlandish? It often does to the jury. If you get accused of a crime, an eyewitness says they saw you there, and you protest that they’re not telling the truth, who does the jury believe? Do they back you or do they back the person who has nothing to gain?

Often, they assume that the eyewitness is right and that the defendant, in an effort to shake the charges, is being less than truthful.

However, studies have found that this “logical” approach is often wrong. The reliability of the eyewitness has, to a large degree, been destroyed by DNA evidence. It can prove the truth in many cases beyond a shadow of a doubt. It can overturn convictions.

As the authorities have started using it on old cases, overturning convictions made years or even decades ago, they’ve found a trend. In many of these cases where the wrong person went to jail, a big part of the case involved an eyewitness assuring the jury that the accused was the guilty party. And those eyewitnesses, as DNA proves, were wrong.

This happens for many reasons. Personal bias. Confusion. Memory problems. To some degree, people accidentally allow their memories to change over time. That’s why they’re so convincing. They believe it too.

Has this happened to you? Are you getting accused by an eyewitness who is not telling an accurate story? If so, make sure you know what legal steps you can take.